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  • Avian Field Assistant

    Guest Walter Wehtje
    • Employer: Ricketts Conservation Foundation
      Location: Bondurant, Wyoming
      Country: United States
      Last Date to Apply: 05/15/2022
      Open Until Filled: Yes

    We are looking for a field assistant to work on a long-term project assessing the impact of aspen regeneration projects and wildfires on songbird and small mammal communities.  Specifically, we are looking for persons knowledgeable with banding birds using the Monitoring of Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS) protocol, familiar with or willing to be trained in the Integrated Monitoring in Bird Conservation Regions (IMBCR) protocol, and capable of handling small mammal trapping grids in the Monument Ridge area, west of Bondurant, Wyoming.

    We are seeking enthusiastic and dedicated banders to fill this position. Banders will be responsible for running two MAPS stations (setting up and taking down nets, banding birds, overseeing volunteers, recording, and entering field data) and assist with running multiple small mammal trapping grids (placing and baiting traps, checking traps, identifying and marking trapped animals, recording and entering data). They will also conduct a total of 14 IMBCR bird surveys. Most field work will be conducted in pairs due to bear safety concerns, but some individual work may occur.

    Hours/Schedule: This is a full-time, seasonal position, starting on 16 May and completing on 15 August (13 weeks). Weather and other factors will determine the work schedule, although a 40-hour work week is required. Banding will follow the MAPS 10-day period schedule (https://www.birdpop.org/docs/misc/MAPSManual18.pdf). IMBCR surveys will be conducted in early July and require excellent hearing and bird identification skills. Successful applicants will attend a IMBCR training course run by the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies before conducting any surveys. Small mammal trapping will require setting traps in the late afternoon and checking them early the following morning. All work will be conducted within a 15-mile drive from the provided housing location. We will work some weekends. At the end of the projected field season, there will be the opportunity to continue work on an owl banding project that will continue through October 31. This project will use taped calls and mist nets to capture Flammulated, Northern Saw-whet and Boreal owls.

    Field Conditions: Work will be conducted in and around Bondurant, WY and will be limited to weather conditions that allow for safe trapping and handling of target species. The study area lies at 7,000’ - 8,000’ elevation, so mornings can be frosty, even in summer. Some study sites are steep and up to a mile (1,600 m) from the nearest road, so there is off-trail hiking. Habitat types encountered include aspen woodlands, mixed conifer (Douglas fir, Englemann spruce, lodgepole pine and subalpine fir), sagebrush, and forb meadows. Several mammal trap grids and one MAPS site are in recently burned forest, so extra caution is needed when working there (e.g. downed logs and unsteady snags). Shared housing and transportation for work is provided. Some field gear, including bear spray, is provided. Technicians will need to secure their own transportation to and from Bondurant, WY, but some travel costs will be reimbursed.

    Qualifications: At a minimum, applicants should have held a Bird Banding Laboratory sub-permit or demonstrate sufficient banding experience to obtain a sub-permit. Excellent hearing and the ability to identify western birds by sight and sound is a non-negotiable requirement. Experience in small mammal trapping is also desirable, but this requirement may be waived at the employer’s discretion. Applicants should also possess a degree in wildlife biology, wildlife management, biology, zoology, ecology, or a related discipline or be working towards completing a degree program. A valid driver's license is required, with the ability to drive a manual transmission a distinct plus. Applicants should have a strong work ethic, be a quick learner, have good navigational skills, be able to work as a team player, and be willing to do new and often difficult tasks.

    Preferred Job Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities: Courses and/or work experience in wildlife biology and conservation, preferably with passerines and small mammals. Experience using reference materials (i.e. Pyle) to age and sex birds. Experience identifying and handling small mammals. Experience checking nest boxes and banding nestlings. Experience supervising employees and/or volunteers. Ability to work independently, as well as with a team of other researchers. Ability and willingness to live and work in close quarters with team members. A professional and positive approach to field work and interacting with study collaborators and the public. Ability and willingness to work in adverse environmental conditions. Excellent note taking and organizational skills. Working knowledge of Bandit and Microsoft Office programs (e.g. Word, Excel, and Access). Willingness and ability to work in a study area with the potential for bear encounters. Familiarity with using taped calls to capture migrating owls and the ability to stay up late.

    Physical Demands: This is physically demanding work requiring long hours in the field. Technicians must be in excellent physical condition and possess the ability to tolerate early mornings, off-trail hiking and not using mosquito repellents in the field (DEET and small animals don’t mix). Applicants should be able to lift up to 50 lbs, hike up to 10 miles off trail in steep terrain and be comfortable working at altitude (7,000 – 8,000’).

    Salary: $600 per week. Housing is provided. 

    To apply, email Walter Wehtje a cover letter, CV/resume, and three references at wwehtje@rickettsconservation.org.

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